COLLINGULLIE-Glenfield Park and Turvey Park's top five hopes have been dealt blows with Demons prime mover Ed Perryman and Bulldogs forward Mitch Ward set to miss crucial matches through suspension and injury.
Midfielder Perryman accepted a two match ban for rough conduct after his tackle on Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes rival Harry Collins on Saturday forced him to leave the field after he hit his head on the ground.
Head knocks in community football have been made an even bigger priority this season. The AFL has introduced mandatory 12-day stand-down periods from games and training for concussed players, and a medical clearance is also required.
The Demons have won two of their past three games and are clinging to fifth place with a 3-4 record, with Turvey Park (2-5) close behind with a superior percentage.
Turvey Park is set to be without Canberra recruit Ward for at least one game after he re-injured a hamstring he first hurt in round one in last week's loss to Wagga Tigers.
Diminutive youngster Perryman previously had a clean record and Demons coach Brett Somerville understands the focus on head knocks and responsibility on players to tackle safely.
But he said it was a case of bad luck for Perryman, who will miss games against the Tigers and Griffith.
"People who know him and the opposition know that he's not the sort of bloke to be doing that type of stuff. It's disappointing for him because it was just a tackle that went wrong," Somerville said.
"It wasn't really a sling tackle, it was more the momentum of the tackle. At the end of the day he's pinned his arms as he's tackled him and his head's hit the ground, so you can't argue with that. It's a bit frustrating that it's Eddy, and the opposition knows he's not trying to sling tackle anybody.
"He definitely wasn't trying to sling tackle him or take him out of the game, he was just trying to tackle a bigger bloke. It was unfortunate."
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Goannas coach Jeremy Rowe said afterwards Collins was set to be unavailable for next week's clash with Leeton-Whitton regardless , with a club bye to follow.
"We've got the bye and he was unavailable for the week after, so I'd say he'll need the 12 days that is mandatory for players these days," Rowe said.
Meanwhile the Bulldogs expect centre-half forward Ward to miss at least their next clash against Griffith at home after suffering a recurrence of the hamstring issued that kept him out of the round two loss to Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong.
However they are confident key forward Brad Ashcroft, who bagged five goals in his only game this year against Narrandera in round three, will finally return from a lingering back issue.
"I wouldn't expect him (Ward) to play next week, because it's a recurrence we won't rush him back.
"Brad should come back after the bye, he's been training for a couple of weeks. I think we would have played him on the weekend (loss to Tigers) had (Pat) Voss not been available. But with the bye in we didn't think it was worth the risk."
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